Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Doesn't Labor Day always seem to be such a final mark that summer is officially over? I guess it has lots to do with the fact that school usually starts around this time. The weather cools off (depending on where you live), the days aren't quite so long, and it's that last day that everybody scrambles around to go swimming, hit the beach, and have BBQ's on the back patio.

Here in Washington, it feels like summer ended a couple of weeks ago because we've had lots of cool, misty weather and it's felt like fall already! But this year OUR summer will stretch on for a couple weeks because we're going to San Diego to visit my family on a late summer vacation. Starting soon, we'll be at the beach, swimming, going to theme parks, and continuing our summer fun! We're so excited! Of course San Diego is also the land of perpetual summer. This (OLD!) picture is from a Labor Day many years ago, when I was playful and carefree at the beach with my cousin Pam. Weren't we stylin' in our floatys?
So I hope everyone has a GREAT day and an awesome tribute to the end of summer! Happy BBQ'ing! Stephen made these beautiful chicken and pineapple kebabs on the grill last week. They sure tasted like summer, even though the poor guy had to stand over the grill with an Umbrella because it was raining that day! I think he's decided he never wants to grill in the rain again. But they were yummy! And that glass of total deliciousness next to the plate? That, my friends, is Brazilian Limeade! It's the best!

So happy End of Summer to everyone! We will miss the gorgeous weather but I have to admit I'm thrilled to death that it will be full-blown FALL when I come back from vacation. Fall is my very favorite season!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kirsten Got Tagged!

My fun friend Alyssa tagged Kirsten! Yay! I know I already write tons of stuff about her, but here are some more things I'm sure you're dying to know about Kirsten. . .

Name and meaning: Kirsten really wasn't named after anyone. We just loved the name and I had never personally met a Kirsten before! It's Kirsten, NOT Kristen, in case anyone hadn't noticed that before. I love it because it's unique without being too crazy. And the meaning is "follower of Christ" or "walks with God." It had no bearing on our name choice, but it's a cool meaning anyway!

Age: 15 months old! Birthday: May 13'th! She was born on Mother's day, and a whole week after her due date.

Nicknames: Kirsten Bug, Kirsten Love, Sweetiepie.

Favorite activities: Walking, exploring, making messes, playing in the bathtub or the baby pool, looking at books, playing hide and seek, being tickled or chased.

Favorite foods: Fruits like bananas and peaches, sweet potatoes, bread, crackers, cookies, and she really likes almost all of the baby food purees.

Least favorite foods: Peas! She has always hated peas, and any veggie mixes with peas in them at all. She also cries if I try to feed her pasta or macaroni and cheese.

Favorite music: She bounces up and down to all kinds of music! Her favorites are probably songs that come on Sesame Street, the American Idol theme song (no idea why!), the Wiggles, Disney songs, and the Mamma Mia soundtrack.

Favorite toys:
She loves all the Fisher Price Amazing Animals toys, her Little People Zoo, the Sing-Along Superstar Stage that has music and a mirror, the Little People Building Blocks sets, and really anything she can stick in her mouth and chew on. She does love balls now! She goes the most crazy for non-toys like the car keys, my camera, and cell phones. How do babies KNOW to want the things they're not supposed to have?

Favorite book: She likes most books that have fun pictures in them, although she NEVER wants to look at 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' or 'Goodnight Moon.' I don't know why! Aren't little kids supposed to love those books? Her very favorites are called 'Jungle Colors' and 'Thumper's Fluffy Tail', and she loves all the Bright Baby books with the real pictures of animals and the different textures.
Favorite item of clothing: She's too young to care about her clothes, but I love her outfits from Gymboree the best!

What makes her happy: LOTS of things!! Laughing, car rides, playing with Daddy when he comes home from work, Sesame Street, going outside, seeing our kitties or any dog, pulling my hair or pinching me or generally anything that hurts me (seriously! She laughs SO hard and thinks it's the funnest game ever! It's NOT!), her blankie that she loves, and being free to roam around and explore.

What makes her sad: Not getting what she wants, not being allowed to share certain foods with us, getting too tired, having her hair combed (tears STREAM down her face), not going outside when she wants to, and having to stay on our laps and not move around.

This was a fun tag! I'm tagging a couple kids (and their mommies of course!):
-Kaci's Elly
-Erin's Ryan
-Michelle's Jacob
-Rachel's Lilly

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Little Monkey

Kirsten is SUCH a little monkey now! She climbs up everything she possibly can, and for several weeks now she has been climbing up onto the couch and the recliner chair by herself. She loves to climb up there with some books and look at them. I guess it makes her feel more grown up!She also makes her first animal noise now. . . the chicken sound! "Bop bop bop." She did this awhile ago when she saw real chickens, but now she makes the noise when she sees pictures of chickens in some of her books.

Kirsten has also tried to climb from the chair onto the end table, but she's too slow and I always catch her at it. At least she hasn't figured out how to climb out of her crib yet!

Chillin' on the couch!

She loves books, but rarely has the attention span to sit through a whole book while it's read out loud to her. She prefers to flip through the pages herself, skipping most of them, and pointing to things so I can tell her what they are. Sometimes she'll repeat the word I say, but only once! It's so fun when she says the word herself.

Little bookworms are always a great thing! I know I used to be one!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Slide Show of Family Portraits

For anyone who's interested in seeing the slide show from our family portrait session at the beach you can see it at this link:

It's going to be really hard for me to choose which ones to order!
Any ideas about which ones are best are really appreciated!!!
(And no, I did not choose the strange music in the background. It makes me feel like I'm in an elevator at Nordstrom's though!)

Some Carrots And A Fire Alarm

So last night I decided to boil up some baby carrots for Kirsten and us to eat. I knew they would have to boil for a really long time to get soft enough for Kirsten, so I put a lot of water in the pot. I checked them when she was ready to eat dinner, but they were still too hard. So I left them to boil longer and fed Kirsten her dinner, minus the carrots.
Pretty soon, I started to smell a gross burning smell and at that EXACT moment the smoke alarm went off. I rushed over to the stove and all the water from the pan was GONE! The carrots were just sitting there in the pan on high heat, burning to the bottom. I had to open the door and light a candle to get rid of the smell of scorched carrots. And the smoke alarm made Kirsten cry. I felt so dumb!

After I got Kirsten in bed it took me a long time to clean out the pan. At least I didn't ruin my beautiful Calphalon saucepan! So what kind of wife and mother are you? Apparently I'm the kind who burns carrots!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Walking At the Beach!

I LOVE living only a 5 minute drive away from this beach! Isn't it gorgeous? It's right on the Puget Sound!
There's a little grassy park adjacent to the beach, and at first all Kirsten wanted to do there was play with the car keys. This picture says it all without words: "Give me those keys!"

After I gave her the keys, she was willing to pose for a few pictures. . .

And then we went walking! This trip was actually from a few weeks ago, when she had first started getting brave enough to walk around the grass on her own. She was so cute, wobbling around the grass and trying not to fall!

Now there's a look of intense concentration!

And here are some pictures of the beach. It's a rocky beach, that's for sure, and a little more rugged than some of the more popular beaches around Seattle. But I think the water and the rocks are really beautiful, and you can't beat a 5 minute drive!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kirsten's Halloween Costume!

Now I'm even MORE excited for Halloween, since I bought Kirsten's Halloween costume on Friday! I was at Gymboree with a discount coupon and saw their adorable Halloween costumes for sale. I picked this one, the butterfly fairy! You can't see the back in this picture, but it has little butterfly wings sewn onto the back and it is seriously SO cute! I'll post tons of pictures of her in it after Halloween for sure.Last year she was a ladybug, this year she'll be a butterfly. . . She's definitely my Kirsten Bug!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Random 10 Friday!

*I love the idea of Random 10 Friday! I always enjoy reading it on a few of my friends' blogs, so I decided to try it out too!

*Fridays have always been my favorite day of the week! Always! Even when I had to work on Friday and go to school on Friday, it was like the ANTICIPATION of the weekend was better than the actual weekend. Know what I mean???

*Now that I’m starting to see Halloween decorations pop up in stores like Michaels, I’m getting SOOOOOO excited for Halloween! I love to go crazy in the house with decorations, but cute decorations only. I’m not into the horror or scary decorations. Cute Halloween decorations are some of my very favorite things!
I couldn’t resist buying this Martha Stewart craft kit. I can’t wait to make these fun pumpkin lanterns and hang them in front of a window!

*Don’t you hate it when you wake up in the morning and your neck feels all kinked up like you totally slept on it wrong? That was me a couple of days ago, and I’m still sore! I wish I knew how it happened but of course I don’t because I was ASLEEP!

*Tomorrow is the only Saturday in the month of August that I’m not booked to play the harp at a wedding. Although I love making money doing weddings, I am looking forward to a totally free Saturday! I’m feeling the pressure to come up with something really FUN to go do.

*I’m craving some delicious homemade Brazilian LIMEADE tonight! Hopefully I can convince Stephen to make it, because his is the very BEST!!

*I think the main purpose for Random 10 Friday is to list 10 songs I love that are playing randomly on my computer right now, to give people some new song ideas! So here are 10 of mine for this week:

1. All I Can See- Brendan James (WOW. . . anyone who loves to travel has to download this song! You’ll think he’s singing the words straight from your own heart!)

2. Just Dance- Lady GaGa (SO catchy and fun!)

3. Mercy- Duffy (All you SYTYCD fans will recognize this as the song from the dance with Twitch and Katie around the door!)

4. Rock Your Soul- Elisa (This song is just so pretty!)

5. Chase This Light- Jimmy Eat World (Has such a cool vibe)

6. The Way I Am- Ingrid Michaelson (This song is so sweet. It reminds me of my husband, who loves me just the way I am!)

7. Crush- David Archuleta (He has a new single already! Wow!)

8. Chasing Pavements- Adele (Gorgeous song!)

9. 1234- Feist (I know this is an older song, but for some reason I just recently discovered it. It’s totally catchy!)

10. Dark Blue- Jacks Mannequin (I actually found this one off the Twilight playlists from Stephenie Meyer’s website)

*Now I want to know what everyone thinks of my songs and my Random Friday post. Comments are the best! They totally make my day!

Why I Love Project Runway. . .

For quotes like this:
"It's like a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park!"

I laughed SO hard! Last night's episode was totally crazy and over-the-top because the designers had to create costumes for DRAG Queens!
The best part of the whole episode was when Tim Gunn saw this outfit being made and made that hilarious quote.
Tim Gunn is the mentor for the designers on the show, and he gives them feedback and help with their designs before the judges see them. He can usually be counted on for some very funny comments, but this one tops the charts!!!

So who else loves Project Runway? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Is. . .

1. Going to a Farmer's Market! The city I live in doesn't actually have one, so I took Kirsten with me to one the next city over, and it was pretty small but really great!

2. Eating snow cones! My favorite flavor has always been Tiger's Blood, although I have NO idea what the flavor actually is. (Anybody know? I'd love to find out!) Kirsten had her first taste of the wonderful snow cone at the Market, and she really enjoyed it too!

3. Beautiful bouquets of fresh, summery flowers! I'd love to say I bought some, took them home, and set them out on my table to look gorgeous amidst a home-cooked meal. But. . . I didn't. I was running low on cash. Next time!

4. Fresh-picked BERRIES! These were what I was REALLY excited to find at the market and where most of my cash went. To find out which berry is my absolute favorite, just keep reading!

5. Water! You can't exactly go swimming in this fountain, but it was pretty to look at anyway.
6. Ducks! Ducks really have nothing to do with summer, but. . . Kirsten loved them! We sat on a bench by the duck pond to finish our snow cone and watch them swim around.

(Aren't the baby ducks so cute???)

7. My favorite berry of all time is. . . BOYSENBERRIES!!! You have no idea how thrilled I was to find these for sale at the Market, because I have NEVER seen these beauties anywhere but in southern California! I never saw them in Utah or Washington until now. My family used to have boysenberry bushes, and I loved to go outside and pick them until my hands were stained purple and my tummy was full. They are delicious! Blackberries grow everywhere in Washington, but their flavor is just so mild compared to the boysenberry. Boysenberries have the perfect mix of tangy, tart sweetness and they just taste like summer in a bowl to me!

Here is a picture of my beautiful berries. They're all gone now, but even just looking at this picture makes my mouth water again! I should have definitely gotten all four boysenberries and skipped the raspberries though. If you live in a place where boysenberries are easily accessible, consider yourself lucky!

So the Farmer's Market was a hit! It's hard to believe summer is coming to an end soon. I'll have to head back over the Market again soon, before it's GONE until next year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Random Thoughts About The Olympics

First. . .
My Thoughts About Gymnastics
- (And yes, it is my favorite!)

1. I was SO happy when the USA won both gold and silver in the women's all-around gymnastics competition. We finally took an Olympic gold away from China! It was about time! I thought both Nastia and Shawn did an amazing job!

2. Why did Nastia wear a hot pink leotard for the all-around competition? It would have looked much better if she had worn red like Shawn did or navy blue. I just don't see why the USA should be represented in ANY way by hot pink!
3. Nastia is so graceful, I would say she has more of a dancer's body than a gymnast's. Like if I saw them across a room I could pick Shawn out as a gymnast in half a second, but I would probably think Nastia was a dancer.

4. I felt SO bad for Alicia Sacramone several times, but mostly when she came in fourth place behind the Chinese girl who FELL on her vault landing! And Alicia didn't fall! The guy with the strong accent who always gives his opinion on gymnastics was outraged that Alicia didn't win the bronze medal. Poor girl!

5. I think it's really sad that most of the female Chinese gymnasts are chosen from schools and daycares and taken away from their families at the age of THREE. After that, they only see their families once a year! I could NEVER imagine saying goodbye to Kirsten when she's three and just saying, "See you once a year!" It would be like she wasn't even my child anymore! They are very talented gymnasts, but I don't think it's worth as much of a sacrifice as they have to give.

6. Why don't the men use music on their floor routines? Are they too "manly" for it? The men's figure skaters use music! I just think it's kind of awkward to see them going around the floor and doing all their moves without music to help tie it all together.
7. I am going to be sad when gymnastics is over soon! And I'll be sad when the whole Olympics is over, this Sunday.

My Thoughts About Everything Else-

1. How cool is that Water Cube building?!!! I think it looks SO awesome! I love the name for it too. . . the Water Cube.

2. Michael Phelps is seriously a MACHINE! He wins everything! If he were Chinese, I'd probably think he really WAS a machine, because they most likely have the advanced technology to make a machine look and sound so convincingly real. :)

3. I love to watch the diving! Their bodies just look so beautiful, all synchronized together and in such gorgeous shapes. I can't imagine being a platform diver. I am SCARED to even jump off the platform!
4. I want to go to China!!!

5. This is the first Olympics that I've actually owned a DVR and been able to record all the Olympics and watch it whenever I want. Let me tell you, that DVR has been worth its weight in GOLD! I love fast-forwarding through all the commercials and some of the boring stuff and working it around MY schedule instead of the other way around. DVR, I love you!!!

6. I hope it doesn't sound bad to say this, but I like to watch the falls, mess-ups, and big disappointments as well as all the triumphant moments. I don't wish failure on anyone, but those moments like watching the male gymnast take a hard fall off the rings are just such HUMAN moments. It's nice to know that even athletes who are crazy talented and amazing still make mistakes, have bad days, and sometimes fail. I think it makes all of us normal people feel better about our mistakes and failures too.

What do you all think? Agree with me, disagree? I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts who reads this!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Too Darn Hot!!!

Alright, everyone. . . I know I deserve it. I've been bragging all summer long about the gorgeous, mild temperatures here in Seattle and I finally got what was coming to me. Ask anyone living around Seattle if they mind not having air-conditioning in their houses, and they will say it's usually great, except for a few weekends and days here and there in the middle of summer. And this weekend is for SURE one of those weekends! Temperatures have climbed into the 90's and I am NOT loving it.

Ashley + Heat = Misery!!! Since we can't hide inside our lovely air-conditioned houses, we hang out at stores, restaurants, or just drive around in our cars with the AC blasting instead. This is the kind of weather that just makes you want to sit in front of a big fan. . . (I SO want a dog like that!)

Or, even better, to dive into a gorgeous, big pool of refreshing water! I'd die to go to this place, wherever it is!

To top it all off, yesterday I was booked to play the harp at a wedding at a restaurant in Seattle's Pike Place Market. I was all excited, thinking the restaurant would certainly have AC. Little did I know. . . none of the restaurants in Pike Place Market have AC. The buildings are old, and they all have amazing views of the Puget Sound and gorgeous ocean breezes. So why would they need AC? Well, usually not. . . except on the hottest weekend of the year!

So, I sat and played the harp while I was baking in a room where the sun streamed in through the windows, making the temperature climb higher every minute (or so it seemed). I actually felt sweat drip down my back a few times while I was playing. Sweat! And I almost never sweat, so you KNOW it was hot! My only source of relief. . . the raspberry cream Italian soda I bought at a stand in the Market before I started playing. Mmmm!

It's a little better today, and supposed to cool back down to the low 70's starting tomorrow. Yay! But I couldn't resist complaining about our heat wave we've been sweltering in this weekend.